tv The Cycle MSNBC December 13, 2012 12:00pm-1:00pm PST
our fearless leader, chuck todd is here, he has the game plan for the fiscal cliff and the latest stats to back it up. >> while crystal focuses on frivolous things, like is chris christie too fat to be president? could an illegal immigrant sex offender senate intern actually push congress to compromise? >> jimmy williams is here with a better idea, ban cameras from the senate floor, but he wants them turned on him instead. >> we will try anything at this point. fortunately, we are leaving the cameras here, they are kind of important. we are at halftime in our fiscal cliff. yes, kornacki, i said fiscal cliff you and it is a basketball game, as each side continues its
talking, stalking and posturing. >> let's get real. let's really get real about this, if we are going to have a solution and let's stay here and sit at that table and call, you know, make that charge okay, here are the president's cuts. have you seen the president's specific -- well, no, so why -- the president has been very specific. >> but here we are at the 11th hour around the president still suspect serious about dealing with this issue right here. it is this issue, spending. >> let's really get real here, guys what about basketball, you say? well, according to our new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll, the fans want it settled and want it settled now but what we have, at least publicly is like tonight's l.a. lakers/new york knicks game, former knicks coach mike d'antoni, consider him to be like boehner and some say star and real coach, kobe bryant, an eric carpet facing you carmelo anthony, man that drove d'antoni to defeat last
year, let's say he represents the winning side. can i get an obama? all right. enough. we now bring in nbc news political director chief correspondent and host of the daily run down, chuck todd, armed with poll numbers burdened by the washington wizards and the miami hurricanes on the court so, chuck, what are the numbers telling us and more importantly, what are you hearing? >> on the cliff run, it is clear the president has public opinion on his side in an enormous way when it comes to the tax issue, but you also see there is a downside for him -- there already is plenty of down sfirtd republican but downside for him, if no deal happened, there is going to be sort of a collective public anger at washingtowashin.
the way second term president cis work, you have basically one good calendar year to get stuff passed. there's other parts of the job that become more at the forefront in the second term, foreign policy, things like that, but in working with congress, you have got their individed attention for, you hope a year, that's why this is so crucial, figure out how to get something done. i can tell you this, it is -- i put it this way when it comes to the cliff f you are a believer in the addible it is always darkest before the dawn, maybe you can feel good. other than that, it seems like that is not so so good. boehner is going home this weekend. that is not a good sign. >> speaking of bain and speaking of the republicans, one thing you and your team at first read wrote is that the republicans have already gone off an image cliff. >> yeah. >> given that they think they have or seem to think that they have some leverage around the debt ceiling but isn't it also gonna be humanly unpopular for them to put the country through another debt ceiling nightmare, in particular, in order to try
to do something hugely unpopular, which is to take away medicare benefits or cut social security benefits? >> well, nationally, yes. but see, this is where this weird -- not a weird divide, just a fact, the way that the house and senate work. et senators up for re-election that are republican all come from very red states. the members of congress on the ballot in 2014 that are republicans come from places that will not reward compromise but will punish working with the other side, that will reward those sticking to your guns. and that's sort of the political incentives, if this were a national election in a presidential year, the political incentive and there were more swing districts and house races, more swing states on u.s. ballot for senate there would be more political inacceptive for republicans to feel as if, you know, they have a losing happened right now, they better cut their losses, cut it cut the best deal they can with the
president, go home. their incentive may be not to do that and that is something that republicans privately are trying to at the time white house, really talking past each other, yes the president has the national sort of voters, the national mood on his side, but the people that are electing these guys to congress and the ones up for re-election, mitch mcconnell, a state like ken keep, the president won four counties. what insensitive does he have? he will not be rewarded for compromising too much with the president. >> chuck that's really interesting. like at your poll, you asking foam define the gop, they say bad, weak, negative, broken, lost, think about the tax issue, susan rice you can the right to work issue, it appears the gop didn't learn anything in the election, still want to be the anti-government/pro-wealthy party. you bring in it is not just the national election they care about but these primaries and their own elections they have to be responsive to as well. there are two different elections they are responding
to. not enough to say they didn't learn from the national election because they have others to worry b >> look at dick lugar they want don't want to suffer wait he suffered. this is a case where 20 years ago, there was a popular relationship book called, what, "men are from mars, women are from venus," alien creatures they don't know how to talk to each other, one speaks, the other doesn't understand what the other is saying? i think that's the case with where the modern washington republican party is right now because of how they have won their elections and what their pressure points really are versus where the democrats are today. one is from mars and one is from venus, all born in the united states though. sorry. >> thank you. >> all legal. chuck, i think that's right and there's some soul searching, the rnc met recently, american crossroads met to sort of figure out what went wrong, where to go from here and there was some really meaty stuff in your nbc poll, your first read.
so in your honor, i want to take a really deep, deep, deep, deep dive into it and ask you, one thing i found really, really interesting in that word cloud that tour ray mentioned, when people were talking about the negative connotations for the republican party, too conservative polled at 1%, too religious department didn't register, under 1%. what was at the top of that was uncompromise and need to work together. maybe they just need probably in addition to other things, to learn how to reach across the aisle in better ways? >> and how to find a way to declare victory if they only get 65% of what they want. i heard dan bartlett, communications director for george w. bush and he said in you had told me ten years ago that a democratic president and
a whole bunch over house democrats and senate democrats were ready to permanently extend the bush tax cuts for 98% of americans, he goes, i'd call that a victory, into the defeat. >> right. right. >> so i think that that's -- i go back to watching where the moneys are. there are a lot of special interest groups i think that have a -- the same way democrats had this problem in the '70s and '8 s when labor in many ways could trump what was in the best interest of a general election electorate. back then, much weaker position today, for instance, than they were back then, wasn't just labor but other special interest rocky mounta groups, worried about primaries that is what you are seeing with the republican side >> you mentioned dems there i think ate such sex they don't have much of a formal role in the negotiations and the discussions going on right now but we did he have nancy pelosi at her press conference putting out a reminder, hey, speaker
boehner, you might end up needing our votes to pass any deal you cut with the president. there might be a slight difference here, you think back to the debt ceiling in the summer of 2011, obama put some social security, put some medicare, put some medicare stuff on the table t looked like in if boehner said grow that going to have support from pelosi you never know for sure, we can get to that point. i think talking to a number of democrats in washington, i get the sense that liberals in congress look at the situation right now a little differently. in the summer of 2011, they were up against a debt default. now up against this january 1st deadline if they say no to a deal, tax rates go up, social security and medicare don't get touched. they maybe have a little more leverage here than we appreciated? >> they do. and it is i think what one part of this where the republicans don't appreciate sort of the bokts president could potentially be in.box the president could potentially be in. he can't author them.
the same way boehner is signalling to the president, don't make me say i'm for raising tax rates. if your going to wait for that, you're going to wait -- some point, maybe i'll sign onto a deal that says that but i can never be for that. i might be able to support a deal that includes that you, but don't make me say the same way with the entitlements, you bring up the right point. this mix of what it's going to take to pass the grand bargain, if it happens, i'm very skeptical at this point, going to take 80 to 100 republicans, going to take then the rest of it, made up of 110 say to 120 democrats and what is that mix? and both steny hoyer, sort of the number two in the house, doing a lot of the vote counting, and kevin mccarthy, both going to want to have wiggle radio. both going to want ten guys and gals in their pocket i will vote for it if you need the vote but please don't make me do it because they will each fear say it is aed me karz reform that
the democrats don't like or that tax rate that republicans don't like. coming up, the most interesting people of 2012. toure, you didn't make that list again p bon jovi gave him a shoutout at the concert last night? >> chris christie, thank you for everything you do. >> we joked about that last time. constipated? yeah. mm. some laxatives like dulcolax can cause cramps. but phillips' caplets don't. they have magnesium. for effective relief of occasional constipation. thanks. [ phillips' lady ] live the regular life. phillips'.
>> what? >> i don't know what. >> and that's something the people have created. >> what kind of a tree are you? >> god i love that moment. >> brush walters last night continued her long tradition of asking the hard-hitting questions to the most fascinating people of the year. on this year's list two politicians fueling speculation about 2016, chris christie and hillary clinton. well, some things never change. >> you are a little overweight. >> more than a little. >> yeah. >> yeah. >> why? there are people who say that you couldn't be president because you're so heavy. what do you say to that? >> that's ridiculous. i mean that's ridiculous.
i think people watched me for the last number of weeks in hurk hurricane sandy doing 18-hour days, i don't really think that would be a problem. >> your hair. >> if you were a tree, how fat would you be? that brings us to another hard-hitting edition of the spin cycle. and you can say a lot about barbara walters, a lot about these questions, but i actually do -- i'm kind of interested in talking a little bit about, yeah, christie and got clinton on the list and weather it's barbara walters talking about them or anybody else media, these are names we are going to be hearing about a ton for the next three, four years, you know, viable contenders for 2016, all of that the clinton one is interesting. my sort of take of the day of this probably need a take of the day of hill right next four years, today, it's this. i was struck that david axelrod, the president's top political adviser are, at a forum in washington, the exact quote, asked about hillary clinton in
2016 she would be in a very strong position. and it really strikes me that typically, the tradition is you got a -- joe bind wants to be president of the united states. he wants to run in 2016. in the tradition obviously, vice president who is in good standing in the administration you al gore under clinton, george bush senior under reagan, they get that chance. part of the job of being vice president, they get to build toward succeeding the president. ed by unhas been a loyal vice president, by all measures, obama enjoys working with him, likes having him around, an asset, he is not going to get that chance if hillary clinton does. the president's adviser are, hillary, the formidable run that is where the action is. >> i think hillary clinton is going to be the next president
of the united states. i have said that before. going to be that the next four years, i want to talk about barbara walters because that moment about the hair and to the fat question to christie, too embarrassing. dereliction of duty. how what are you talking about, barbara? spend time with a person a very serious contender for the president of the united states, secretary of state, senator, talking about her hair? this is a media hurdle serious women have to go through and here's an example of sexism being inflicted on another woman by a woman and barbara goes on to say would you never ask a man that. so, why are you asking her that? do you even reck nism the sexism that you are activating and commenting on? no, you don't. i'm like cringing at this entire exchange. >> have all the good questions been asked? >> been asked. yes. yes. >> sorry, hillary, i got nothing. >> toure, you're black, why?
>> absolutely asked. >> well, i have to say, yes, to all of that yes. and the certainly, i, you know, have been there, getting the questions about the hair, telling me to cut it, shoes, dress, all of that when i was running for congress, but the one that bothers me more than that that i heard so many people say is, oh, hillary can't run. she looks tired. no one would ever say that about a man and it drives me nuts because i think there is this underlying sense in this society that once women start to visibly age then they should go hide in a corner, they are no longer good to us and we don't want to see them and they shouldn't be in public life once they start to show age. so, that is the one that really, really bothers me. >> susan rice she is abrasive. >> strident. >> ever hear that about henry kissinger, jim bakker, bad people, they are abusiness are sive? no never say that about a man. >> for all of the hillary talk, think one interesting thing to note, just because it's timely,
she is going to be testified next week. i don't know that this will have a huge effect on her candidacy in four years but i don't know her less legacy is sewn up yet. we will see where that goes. but from benghazi to ben affleck. that just happened. >> well done. >> that transition just happened. benghazi to ben affleck, also one of barbara's most interesting or fascinating people. i object. i object because if you are one of the most overexposed celebrities on the planet, i don't think you can still be fascinating. he was fascinating maybe in 1999 when we didn't know literally everything about this man. but even though he has gone through some metamorphosis, he
has gray hair, a father, he is old, gray hair, he is choosing good roles finally, i don't find him fascinating. >> i was bored by him more than a decade, he was like the quint essential guy famous for being famous, what he basically informs the 2000, the us aughts. i saw "a go," i saw it a few weeks ago, stuck with me. i'm fascinated how a guy could be that boring for so long and then suddenly become interested. >> but you're -- you're talk bag previous ben affleck a guy of "goodwill hunting" cannot be famous for being famous. immigration could be the political issue of 2013. have pulitzer prize-winning journalist and undocumented immigrant jose vargas next. [ male announcer ] when was the last time something made your jaw drop? campbell's has 24 new soups
i can't know who is here to pursue the american dream versus who is here to do it damage if i cannot get people to come forth out of the shadows, go through a criminal bang ground check and then determine who is here to pursue the dream and make sure those who are here and have criminal backgrounds ultimately get to court. >> that was new jersey senator bob menendez, using the arrest of an unpaid intern in his office as the latest example of why we need comprehensive immigration reform. that intern and up documented immigrant and registered sex offender now faces deportation. comprehensive immigration reform is expected to take center stage in the new year and it feels like maybe now, more than at any time in the last decade, there is actual real momentum behind making significant changes. so, has this last election set both parties on the true course to reform and will this be a
topic that boards us to use washington's dirtiest c-word, compromise? what were you thinking? the guest spot is jose antonio vargas, pulitzer prize-winning journalist, founder of define american, an organization dedicated to bring new voices to the immigration conversation. back in 2011, jose revealed himself as an undocumented worker. thank you so much for being with us. >> oh, thank you so much for having me. >> so as an activist, looking at the political landscape right now, knowing that republicans still have control of congress, what is kind of your best case scene is nair yo for what could realistically pass in the next year? >> the best case scenarios looking that the issue fully and comp prehen somebodiably as we can. meaning it is not just the dream act t is not just stem, which is what representative lamar smith tried pass. it is actually looking at the fact that we need to address that our country needs workers at all skill levels. as somebody who has been
traveling around the country, places like alabama and south carolina and georgia passing these anti-imi can't grant laws we need college-educated dream act kids but we also need migrant farm workers? how do we make sure we are looking at this issue as holistically as we can? >> i want to take a listen real quick to what the president had to say about immigration reform at a press conference a while back. >> i do think there should be a path way for legal status for those who are living in this country, are not engaged in criminal activity, are here simply to work. it's important for them to pay back taxes, it's important for them to learn english. it's important for them to potentially pay a fine. but to give them the avenue where by they can resolve their legal status here in this country i think is very important. >> i noted this before, one of the things that strikes me, the president says legal status rather than citizenship and i think that's going to be a sticking point for a lot of
republicans who are ver nous, frankly, about making more latino citizens so that they can vote because in the past couple of election, latinos haven't really wanted to vote for republican candidates. so, as an activist, as an undocumented immigrant, is legal status enough for you or is citizenship a real sticking point? >> i mean, again, this has to be the question of who we define americans to be in this country. you know, i want to be a full-fledged step but with acit the privileges that and responses builts that comes with, the right to vote, paying tax. i think the president is worried about giving citizenship to latino voters is indicative of the kind of policies republican parties stand for. yet how does this party, who for more than a decade now viewed as the anti-immigrant/anti-gay party, right, how do you -- how do you -- how do you correct that? and it's not by limiting people from voting. by the way it is not just latino who support and voted for
president obama. asian-americans did as well. i think that's really interesting. >> but jose you another i think key reason here that there's been resistance from republicans is just political reality, republican who steps out and says i'm for comprehensive immigration reform is look ac at serious primary challenge or folks of losing their job. i think what we're hearing right now, marco rubio taken the lead on that for republicans, not formally put his proposal out there but thinks he has made clear what you can sell is to the republican party is a two-step process, start by address the dream act aspect first, people who came here when they were kids, sort of college age, says basically address that first, he thinks they can sell that to the republican base and then use that as the spring board to something more comp comprehensive, more broad. see that as workable as at all? >> the politicians in washington doing their thing, exit poll after exit poll, polls have shown this week that americans a majority of americans want to give citizenship to undocumented
people in this country. right now, i think it was yesterday, time.com voted undocumented immigrant russed third place for person of the year. our country is ready for this. orrin hatch, one of the original co-spoonors to the dream act we need republicans to really lead. this is time to actually is a full, honest and comprehensive conversation about this issue. >> jose, i think we all agree, immigration is broken in this system and needs comprehensive reform, you just mentioned some republicans who have been working on that and of course, republicans in the past have been working on that. george w. bush, of course, comes to mind. >> yes. yes. >> but i wonder, you know, if i'm looking back on the conversation we have had over the past year, the dream act, as
incomplete as it was, was called a great first step when republicans tried bring new initiatives to the table like the stem act it is not enough t is not a good first step. i'm just wondering if you think republicans will actually be given the opportunity to succeed at having a conversation on immigration or are democrats really more interested in wing the issue and you not solving the problem? really good question. i have to say i'm not privileged enough to be a republican on a democrat. my life has been played football political football with my whole life. so i'm all for trying to find as many reasonable people to actually compromise and come up with a solution. we have done enough talking, we have done enough blaming, this is a good time to actually start from scratch, saying who are we as a country and who do we want to be here? that is the question. >> i'm glad to hear you say that you feel like your life has been played bike like political football. i see where that is i look at these arizona papers, you are treated you are guilty until proven innocent.
>> yeah. >> can you talk about that sense of living under that cloud within this country and how you have lived as an -- and thrived professionally as an undocumented worker? >> you know, i -- i actually am saying i hope 2013 becomes the year of the al life. if it wasn't for mentors i had all my life to who helped me out, i remember being at the "washington post," covering the presidential campaign four years ago and calling one of my mentors, my former principal and saying i'm not hillary clinton campaign plane, isn't anybody going to find out i don't have papers? she was the one calming me down and say, month don't worry, no someone going to find out. i can only imagine how many other people around this country have relied on these allies it is really time for these allies, white, black, asian, latinos to stand up, speak out, come out in support of us. we are going to need them. my biggest worry about this is to create a space that we
culturally can actually is a more honest conversation. politicians are going to do what they are going to do i really hope, look, the future of the republican party depends on what they do with this issue and it's not just about latino voters, all thee is very important t is also about asian voters. it is about a multiethnic america. i don't know if you read, the census reported today, we are fast becoming a minority/majority country and i think that's really important to keep in mind. >> hopeful that space is already being create forward more honest conversation and helping to push that forward. thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you so much for having me. up next from imgrigs jobs to the fiscal cliff, would congress actually get more done if we took away the cameras? what do you say, jimmy? that from a man who has never met a camera he didn't like. we love you. here next.
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how many times is charlie brown going to kick that football? because we know every time he approaches that football it will be take answer way from him. >> came to the floor to point out something that shouldn't need repeateding, but does. >> we should be embarrassed by what's going on and the state should grow up and really pay attention to what they are doing to this great democracy in america. >> the future, and america, now may have lost my train of thought several minutes ago, but if i continue to talk like this, no one will notice. and when i stop, you are to applaud my energy. thank you. >> nothing's off limits on "30 rock." around here there's always a camera in my face you part of my job, actually it is my job but on the hill, their job is to legislate. boring. some say the constant presence of cameras inside senate chambers is doing more harm than good, causing senators to grandstand and not actually do anything. friend of the show and msnbc contributor jimmy williams says
get rid of them 'cause the he have north's backfired. welcome. >> hello. >> i think you will have a hard time convincing four people whose livelihood depends on cameras to remove them from the senate floor, but go ahead and make your case. >> not trying to convince you guys, trying to convince the united states senate. who i'm trying to convince. look, it's simple, from 1789 to 1986, obviously, we didn't have tv thanks entire time. the bottom line, we went through wars, civil wars, slavery. we debated world war i. we debated the treaty of versailles. debated all kinds of pithy, important things. guess what they actually, oh, my gosh, debated them and they didn't have a camera on the floor to had grandstand. cameras are bad idea. i get the theory behind t senator byrd, when he was the leader of the democratic -- minority leader in the senate went to the floor and said you can the senate's got to move into the 20th century, because if they don't, "the senate will have lost its relevance." i would argue that not only has
the senate lost its relevance, it's become almost laughable. they have got -- you got 100 men and women, elected by the people, and all they do is talk to the cameras and they don't talk to each other. so let's turn the cameras off. >> but jimmy, i hear you, but when you've got the culture of network news that we live in, i mean this network puts democrats on all day, fox puts republicans on all day. >> yep. >> i mean, they don't need cameras on the senate floor to be heard. they have plenty of platforms on which to preen. so, how much goodwill th will t actually do? >> if a senator wants to get their position out there, there are easy things to do there are reporters in the senate gallery. the supreme court of the united states is one of the few institutions actually sitting at a decent approval rating by the country. guess what happens if you put cameras into the supreme court of the united states? you are going to have the casey anthony trial or the o.j. simpson trial every single time they are in session and nobody wants that from the high court. that's what's happened in the
lower courts much the senate and the house have devolved into a debate on tv as opposed to a debate amongst themselves. i would just like to see senators pay attention to each other, talk to each other as opposed to this the camera t is not helpful. i get that americans like to watch it. but guess who really and truly watches c-span? the crazy on the left and the crazies on the right. >> i watch c-span. >> to his point, well -- >> to my point, but guess what the rest of america's doing? they are living their lives. they don't care. turn the cameras off. stop the insanity. it's madness. make them actually talk to each other and debate each other. it makes complete and total sense. >> but jimmy, i'm really sympathetic to what you're saying, i have to say i think se makes a good point, cable news replaced in many ways, supplemented dramatically c-span and c-span t2 as the outlet for grand standing. you took it out of the equation, still have senators, members over congress, see an opportunity to run to cable news
and bloviate there and not to legislate but make a name for themselves. to me, the key turning point on all of this wasn't 1986, it was 1979 when the house got cameras, the first guy to discover the cameras of potentials in the house was newt gingrich. extraordinary moment, i remember in the 1980s, on the floor of the house, used the special order speech, empty chamber late at night you challenged the patriotism of ten members, calling him out by name. tip o'neill, the house speaker, came onto the floor the next day ripped into gingrich and the words taken down, the first time it happened to speaker. gingrich looked like the cat who swallowed the can nairry. he got exactly what he wanted out of that he became hero to the conservatives of the house, changed the norms. yeah, it happens on c-span, it happens on c-span 2 but just cable news. >> we are all prod ducks of cable news. i'm not bashing cable news. i'm suggesting from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., monday through friday, i
would like the united states senators to work like everybody else in america as opposed to go on tv via their chamber, via their office. i just think their office should -- do you like -- now, we are on tv that is our job, but most americans aren't. i don't think -- most america would like to have tvs in their offices so take them out of the senators' offices. make them actually legislate as opposed to go run around and raising money and going on fox, et cetera, et cetera, saying that guy's evil. no he is not evil. talk to him, get it done. talk about legislation. >> jimmy, i like this idea. >> okay. >> sorry to break in, guys we now go to nbc news for a special report. >> this is an nbc news special report. here's brian williams. >> good day. we are coming on the air right now to break exclusive word that the united states ambassador to the united nations, ambassador susan rice, has transmitted word
to the president of the united states that she is withdrawing her own name from any future consideration for nomination to become perhaps the next secretary of state following hillary rodham clinton. in the letter to the president, and ambassador rice has subsequently spoke tonight president, "i'm highly honored to be kbird you for appoint as secretary of state. the position of secretary of state" is she goes on to say, "should never be poll lit side. i'm sanded we have reached this point even before you have decided whom to nominate." those all direct quotes from her letter to the president. we are joined in our washington bureau by the moderator of "meet the press," david greglism goes back, follows a chain of event these starts on 9/11 of this year. u.s. con sur late and benghazi, the killing of three american he is a-- americans and then on yor program, the ambassador to the u.n. was selected as the
emissary for the government and really this story starts there. >> it does. because after the death of our ambassador, chris stevens and others, as you point out as our consulate, the question was this a terrorist attack on the anniversary of 9/11 or a spontaneous event? "meet the press" and other sunday program, ambassador rice indicated that her initial information was that it was a spontaneous convenient and not terror. we know after that, of course, said it was self-evident that it was terrorism. so, why was it that she was working off of those talking points? why didn't she push back furt r furtherer? stick to that line when we now note initial estimate, intelligence agencies, including cia director petraeus saying terrorism, indeed, was involved. so, that appearance earned her the criticism that she was playing more of a political role at the height of the campaign than leveling with the american people. and it's come to this point. now, of course, all eyes, brian, as you know, on senator john kerry, who is campaigning hard
and thought to be a real contender for secretary of state after secretary of state clinton. >> david gregory correctly points out this could have devolved into a morass of politics, more so than it even was already. as we mentioned, ambassador rice spoke to the president. the white house has already had put out a statement from the president that reads, in part, "while i deeply regret the up fair around misleading attacks on susan rice in recent weeks, her decision demonstrates the strength of her character and an admirable commitment to the rise above the politics of the moment and put our national interests first." ambassador susan rice, 48 years old, stanford graduate, a rhodes scholar, career diplomat, again, widely reported to be under strong consideration to replace secretary of state hillary clinton. our chief foreign affairs correspondent, andrea mitchell, has been following this story all along. she is in our washington newsroom. andrea, what can you add? >> i think right now, john kerry
is now the most likely choice. this was very personal with president obama. he really wanted susan rice. and then it became clear that she had problems that were identified by john mccain and others who found her too political. they thought that she made it worse by going up to the hill u and i was told by people very close to the president that he would have withdrawn or asked her to withdraw sooner but did not want to back down in the face of opposition from john mccain. >> andrea mitchell, part of our team covering this story. we do want to let you know that ambassador rice will be speaking to us exclusively for tonight's broadcast of "rock center," 10:00 eastern/9 central time. we will hear from the ambassador as to her reasoning for, again, wi withdrawing hear hurricane rita name from consideration as the next possible sochls we will see you again on "nbc nightly news" this evening. for our team in washington, i'm brian williams, nbc news.
>> you heard it there, susan rice will not be the next secretary of state. my quick two thoughts here. i'm rye relieved, someone following the libya story, i want to get to the bottom of it and i think her possible appointment storyline was a distraction on that effort. and two i think it was the right thing to do. whatever side you come down on about her role in libya, it was a controversial appointment. and it was, i think, going to eat up a lot of oxygen and an agenda that obama has a lot to focus on that didn't need to be part of it. i think he can move forward now with the road cleared. >> i'm sanded that i haven't worked with susan rice. i have a lot of respect for her. i also have a lot of respect for john kerry. i'm sort of sanded about the way
this has been politicized removed her name from consideration. perhaps if this hadn't happened, the candidate the president felt most comfortable with. it is interesting, john mccain sort of backed the president into a corner on this, where he felt added pressure is to actually nominate susan rice and not be seen as backing down in the face of political pressure. so he had been backed into that corps, the immediate question for me here, and andrea sort of alluded to it there, did susan rice do thisly to the of her own volition, felt like i need to get myself out of this consideration or some pressure prom the administration for her to make this move so they are not seen as being weak and backing down but still, as you said, the road can be clear and they can move forward and people on the left will still feel like, okay, the president this was his girl, accident -- he didn't go -- >> abandon her. >> abandon her. >> throw her under the bus. move forward with someone who have an easier time getting her confirmed. >> the president not disappointing the left here by going else where, but this is is
a very sad moment. these attacks against her were completely baseless. she was not the problem in benghazi, said this over and over. she reported exactly what the intelligence community told her to say and what they wanted said at that moment. this is naked politics by the gop to take blood a piece of blood out of obama. a return to somebody who had tabled mccain as part of the '08 campaign, part of mccain's bitterness about losing in '08 and perhaps again losing in 2012. and just this sad, nakedly political attack at somebody who was not central in the benghazi tragedy, which is still -- there's zero evidence this was a scandal. so for a promising, brilliant person to be tared and their career derailed with naked attacks is sad and almost tragic. obviously, she didn't lose her life like the four them benghazi but she has worked for years she
deserves this appointment, she could have -- >> a chance that the appointment. >> absolutely. >> we had this nomination fight before we even had a nomination fight because the republican had to stand in front of the nation in front of cameras, it would have been even more embarrassing than this embarrassing thing that mccain and graham and ayotte and others went on. >> well, whether she deserved it or not the speculation now, as you heard in that john kerry's . a super still in his 20s, and he had ambition to be president of the 123450i9s frunited state young age. he got pilloried at a carpetbagger. he couldn't win a congressional set. spent ten years in the political wilderness -- >> i want to bring in andrea mitchell, and andrea, what are
you hear being susan rice withdrawing her name? >> i think this had become sort of an impossible challenge for her to be confirmed, she realized that, the white house realized it as well. i think they know they are on good political solid ground. this is not going to help republicans at all, the fact that a woman and a woman of color has been forced out of a confirmation process even before she was nominated. she clearly was the president's choice, but i think what happened is that it became untenable, that they began to look through the critics all sorts of other aspects of her background, her finances, the kinds of things that would normally come out in a confirmation but she didn't have the defense, the group around her that you would have if you were the nominee from the white house if you had been vetted and had that whole array of defenses. she was on her own really and left hanging. >> andrea, is there any indication there was pressure from the administration for
susan rice to make this move? >> i don't know that, but i think it probably became clear she could probably read the tea leaves, and i don't know right now because we're talking to you and i haven't done additional reporting, whether she's still a possibility for national security adviser. that is the powerful white house position that does not require confirmation. if tom donilon were to move to the cia or one of the other posts that's now likely to be open, it would be possible for susan rice to become national security adviser and to be that close with the president. >> and andrea, is there any indication that the upcoming hearings on december 20th had any affect on this coming out today? >> well, i think that there needed to be some resolution before those hearings because those hearings are going to be very difficult as it is, and that would have been a preview, only a taste of what it would have been like to have
confirmation hearings. also the signal that john mccain told people he wanted to ask the leadership to put him on the foreign relations committee. he is the senior person on the armed services committee, and for him to then be on foreign relations as well meant he would have been in a key role as someone on the committee confirming her or any other secretary of state. so that was going to be difficult. this was personal. this is where it gets back to the 2008 campaign and things that susan rice said as a combatant in that campaign on behalf of barack obama about john mccain and about his trip in 2007 to iraq, and that did not go over well. so they viewed her as a political person, not a diplomat, despite the fact that she's the u.n. ambassador, was a powerful state department figure, was in the nsc, of been in the previous democratic administration and is a stanford
educated rhodes scholar. >> david, i wonder what you make of this. as andrea alluded, it seems completely a personal attack against susan rice, against the president. just a sort of naked attack to extract a pound of blood from the president. there's zero evidence that benghazi is not just a -- is a scandal and not just a tragedy. >> the political reality is the president was going to have a fight on his hands with susan rice. whether people think it should be a fight or not is a separate question. he was going to have a fight. it was john mccain, kelly ayotte, lindsey graham, the three of those senators who were mounting this fight. others who were concerned about the fact that susan rice got certain information about what happened in benghazi, came on "meet the press," described it in the way that was consistent with the information that she
was given despite the fact that there were differences within the government about whether this was an attack or a spontaneous event. and the reality is i think that that was a smaller issue than the larger issue of debate, which is what does america do in terms of its footprint in countries like libya where we have fewer forces and we don't really want to reconstitute the entire country. that's what i think the debate was all about. but, again, it comes back to the political reality that the president had a personal fight on his hands. this is a friend of his. this is somebody who has served as national security team in a very close way going back to his campaign. was u.n. ambassador. somebody he thinks a great deal of who got in the line of fire over benghazi and in the interview she did that had a lot of people criticizing the administration and criticizing her. was this surmountable? certainly. if the president wanted to push
this, could he get her confirmed? i have been asking this question every week on "meet the press." and i think in the end he probably could have, but it may have been costly to do so, and so it appears that susan rice is making a decision to avoid that, whether she was urged to do it, whether she came to it herself, whether it was a combination. she wants to make this an easier process for the president to mom nate his next secretary of state. this doesn't mean the end for ambassador rice. she could still, as i think andrea pointed out, go inside the white house and become national security adviser. she's still very close to the president, and it doesn't mean that if she's not secretary of state that she doesn't serve in the administration in a second term. >> david, andrea said that susan rice was obviously the top choice for the president for secretary of state before this whole benghazi issue came up. i personally found her to be very careful, actually, in her interview with you, but obviously that was made quite political. but dong if that interview
hadn't happened, if she hadn't become the face of benghazi, would she have just sailed to the nomination or would there still have been some road blocks for her? >> there may have been some road blocks but there's no question that that interview, and i agree with you, i have obviously gone through the transcript in addition to having done the interview. she certainly inserted caveats into what she was talking about in the course of that interview, but, you know, where administration officials admit they were not careful enough, you know, we've lived through the last decade and how politicized national security debates can become going back to the bush era, and represent tags made about intelligence or certainly things surrounding terror events on 9/11, and the administration admits they could have been more careful about how they described this or even making the decision to put her out in the first place. we were advocating, as moderator of "meet the press" i wanted to
interview the secretary of state on that topic and we were offered ambassador rice and pleased to talk to her and be able to ask her the questions about what was going on. >> we're running out of time but i wanted to get this in. there's also the speculation now that this will -- that john kerry will become the appointee. that raises the question of his senate seat in massachusetts. there have been a lot of republicans who have been raising the possible of scott brown recently defeated by elizabeth warren doing a come back run in the special election next year. is that possibility, is there any chance that could scotch kerry's hopes at the last minute? >> i think it's certainly going to be a concern and it's not an easy process because i know talking to republicans in massachusetts that scott brown very much wants to stay in the game and potentially run again, so he'll look at that. there will be others. there's a question of the law of how somebody gets appointed for a special election. so there's complications there. but john kerry has been eager to
have this job. he's done almost everything the administration has asked of him as the chairman of the foreign relations committee and is very well-positioned to sail through in the course of this nomination if that's the way the president goes. >> all right, david gregory. thank you so much for that. >> sure. >> all right. that does it for us here at "the cycle." martin bashir picks up the coverage right now. >> a major piece of breaking hour and we have much more throughout the hour. just 15 minutes ago we learned that ambassador rice has respectfully declined consideration to be the next secretary of state. in a letter to the president, she says, quote, if nominated, i am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive, and costly, to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities. that trade-off is simply not worth it to our country. that belief, of course, following condemnation from many on the right for